Archive: History

June 10, 2010

Last night saw the opening of an exhibition at the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont called Picture Yourself: The Photobooth in America, 1926–2010. Nakki Goranin, author of American Photobooth, organized the show, and told us a little about what can be found there. The exhibit includes

…my working Auto-Photo 14 and my wooden 1934 handmade photobooth plus parts of a street photographer’s photobooth (circa 1930s)… Many vintage photos from my collections, an original handbook written by Anatol Josepho, one of his original lenses, etc.

We look forward to seeing photos from the event and hearing about how it went. 

June 10, 2010

During the 2009 International Photobooth Convention, we screened a short documentary that takes the viewer on a 3‑minute tour inside a photobooth as a photostrip is being developed. If you have ever wondered what is humming and whirring while you wait for your photo, wonder no more: we finally got around to uploading the short to YouTube. The video is in real-time, so you can see what happens at each stage of the development process. The video might have benefited from a musical score of some sort (a la Sesame Street), but opted instead for the natural sounds of the booth’s inner-dialogue.

May 21, 2010

Photobooths feature prominently the Seattle Art Museum’s new exhibition on the work of Andy Warhol titled “love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death–Andy Warhol Media Works.”

From the museum’s press release:

The exhibition begins with a group of Warhol’s photobooth strip portraits. These strips of images shot form an ordinary photobooth highlight the flux in personality of the artist’s subjects. Unlike a single-frame portrait, the photobooth strips capture change in movement and facial expressions throughout a series of connected images, revealing the sitter’s personality and creating a story of shifting moods or actions. For instance, in Edie Sedgwick (1965), the Factory superstar who Andy Warhol once said “could be anything you wanted her to be” strikes a series of coyly crafted poses that convey multiple moods, if not multiple identities. The photobooth strips on view in love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death include portraits of celebrities such as Ethel Scull and Gerard Malanga, as well as self-portraits by Warhol in which the artist explores his own personality shifts through a storyline of snapshots. 


In addition to these works by Warhol, the museum has installed a photochemical booth for visitors to enjoy. Museumgoers are encouraged to take a strip of photos, cut off one photo, and leave it on the museum wall.

A Facebook page features photos of the wall of visitors’ photobooth pictures.

For a little more on the show, take a look at a Seattle Times review of the show and an article from The Spectator showing some visitors’ photos. 

Andy Warhol Photo Wall” from Seattle Art Museum on Facebook

May 02, 2010

ace_ny_2009.jpgIt’s hard to believe it’s been five years since we officially launched, but the calendar doesn’t lie. It’s been an enjoyable and interesting five years, and today we’ll take a look back and see what has happened since we began.

About three months prior to the launch of the blog, in January, 2005, Tim contacted me, introduced himself, and asked about collaborating on a photobooth website, having seen a small collection of photobooth locations I had posted on my own site beginning in 2003. By the next month, we were up and running, collecting and presenting photobooth locations around the world, listing the films and TV shows that featured photobooths, and starting a catalog of artists, projects, and articles centered on photochemical photobooths.

As of February 2005, when we began putting the website together and the pre-cursor to the site was still on my old personal page, here’s what we had:

Take a look through those sections to see how we’ve grown over the years; counting booths that have come and gone since we listed them, we now have more than 350 photobooth locations listed, in a dozen countries around the world.

While the site had its origins in my attempt to visit every photobooth I could, our growth is due in large part to the generous contributions of photobooth fans around the world who have tipped us off, clued us in, and emailed photographs, scans, and information about booths we wouldn’t otherwise get to.

The same is true with the movies and TV shows we list; we now have more 100 movies listed and nearly as many TV shows, with more popping up every month.

Over the years, we’ve documented the two International Photobooth Conventions that have happened in the U.S. since we began, in 2005 in St Louis and 2009 in Chicago. In addition to being great events, these were opportunities to meet photobooth enthusiasts from around the world who have since become friends, including Anthony, Mixup, Danny, Nakki, Siobhan, Carole, Connie, Dina, and others.

The site has also been a way to communicate and collaborate with people we haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting, but hope to one day, including Klaas, Martin, Ira, Marco, Ole, Meags, and Igor.

Looking back, it’s as though we created the site in the knowledge that everything was about to change. I don’t think that’s true, but the photobooth world was a different place in 2005. Photochemical booths could still be found at amusement parks around the country, they weren’t as ubiquitous in bars as they are today, and digital photobooths weren’t a wedding and party juggernaut like they are now.

And for a site that culls most of its information from the internet, it’s tough to overstate the effect that Apple’s “Photo Booth” application has had on the online world of photobooths over the last five years. The program, which was introduced in October of 2005, has now polluted every corner of the web, from Google Alerts, which are now only rarely reference actual photobooths, to the Flickr feed for photos tagged “photobooth.” The feed used to be a great source of information on new photobooth locations, as well as interesting vintage photobooth photos. For the last few years, though, it has become a dumping ground for kids to put up photos from the Apple Store, and a free way for digital photobooth companies to distribute their photos.

The last five years have brought a host of positive changes, as well. When we began our site, the last photochemical booths were being replaced with digital machines all across Europe. From the UK to Switzerland, Italy to Germany, the photochemical photobooth was a thing of the past. But slowly, bit by bit, in Berlin and Hamburg, Paris and London, Zurich and Moscow, we’ve watched the booths return. While the machines seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate in the United States, we’re heartened to see the great work done by the entrepreneurs, artists, and technicians (sometimes all the same person) to keep the booth alive in Europe.

Since the site began, we’ve added a section on Music and revamped our location listings to make them easier to navigate. You may also have noticed that our discussion board, once a thriving place to ask questions and share ideas (and then a cesspool of spam comments), is no longer active. We are in the process of restarting the board, and hope to have it up again soon, alongside a new section on the history of the booth, an improved gallery to share your photostrips, and a place to share technical manuals and instructions for operating and repairing photobooths.

We’re grateful to everyone who has contributed to the site over the last five years, as well as to those who have written in simply to tell us how much they’ve enjoyed it or found it useful. Thanks for reading, contributing, and helping keep the photobooth alive!

April 20, 2010

We’ve recently come across an issue of Time magazine from January 1965, featuring a cover by Andy Warhol, using photostrips of teenagers to illustrate a story on the subject in the issue. From Publisher Bernhard M. Auer’s letter:

The cover illustration was done by Pop Artist Andy Warhol, who has made his name and fame by getting his literal renditions of Campbell Soup cans into leading art galleries. Warhol, 33, worked in a five-and-ten as a kid in McKeesport, Pa. For this week’s cover, he took seven youngsters–aged 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, and all relatives of TIME staffers–to a Broadway arcade, where they posed for pictures in one of these old five-and-ten type camera booths. These pictures were Warhol’s starting point for the cover illustration. We asked him to use the same techniques for the accompanying “self-portrait.”

In the following issue, readers responded to the article, and to Warhol’s art. Here are two such letters:

Sir: Andy Warhol’s cover illustration portrays the antics of monkeys in a sideshow. One might infer that today’s teenagers make a joke of the responsibility inherent in their premature sophistication.

D. R. HUNNEMAN III, New Haven, Conn.

Sir: Your Andy Warhol cover is evocative and refreshing. The squares, unfortunately, won’t pay attention to how he’s manipulated his patterns, and thus will miss the rhythm and wit.

R. C. JONES, New York City

April 19, 2010

Our friend Mixup has sent in this note about the late photobooth artist Jaroslav Supek.

Multimedia artist and writer Jaroslav Supek died after a short illness on 9th July 2009. He was born in 1952 and lived in Odžaci in the Vojvodina region of north Serbia and he took part in many group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally over four decades. 

He shared the Slovak background of Andy Warhol (Warhol’s parents were from Miková in north-eastern Slovakia) and maybe this had a small part to play in his passion for photobooth machines, something which interested Warhol too. 

I had the good fortune to meet him twice during 2004 when I was working on art projects with Saša Marković and we were staging the 6th International Photobooth Convention in Belgrade. He came along to Belgrade to join in the activities and a few days later we travelled to visit him at his home. We spent an afternoon sharing a drink or two and looking through his many works and catalogues and because of his connection with Slovakia he also owned genuine photobooth strips of Andy Warhol. Maybe not the greatest photobooth artist but certainly the most well known so holding them in my hand was a moment to savor.


Of most importance were pieces relating to the 1997 show “First International Exhibition of Photo-Booth Photography” held at the Srecna gallery, Belgrade, for which he was curator, featuring photobooth work from South, Central and North America and all over Europe. I had a small piece showing and although I had been formulating the idea of a regular convention (still two years away) it spurred me on to achieve this goal.

I feel it can be honestly said that Jaroslav was one of ours.


Supek in the booth at the 2004 International Photobooth Convention in Belgrade

February 05, 2010

playland_nyt.jpgIn a brief piece in Sunday’s Real Estate section, Christopher Gray of the New York Times answers a reader question about an penny arcade with Skee ball and pinball located near Times Square in the 1950s.

The spot in question, called Playland, is shown in the article as it appeared in 1952, with three beautiful photobooths lined up in front, in a photograph from the Office for Metropolitan History.

In addition to the three photobooths (and a neighboring “Record Your Voice” booth), the arcade seemed to have no fewer than seven different signs advertising the booths. Those were the days: four photos for a quarter, and a “Giant Malted” for fifteen cents.

Playland 1952 photograph [cropped], Office for Metropolitan History.

December 17, 2009


I don’t know exactly when Blackpool got its photomaton, but this photo dates to the days when it was still “New.” The girl in the photo is wearing a pin in the shape of the Blackpool Tower on her coat, and has a somewhat mysterious half-smile on her face. At least I think it’s a girl; the hair, for that era, seems long for a boy’s, and the scarf under the coat…but who knows.

Brian | 8:42 pm | History
November 23, 2009

Contributor Meags Fitzgerald sent us a writeup on an exhibition of the Centre Pompidou in Paris with some interest to the photobooth community.

The Centre Pompidou in Paris currently has an exhibition titled “La Subversion Des Images” or “The Subversion of Images”. It is an exhibition of Surrealist photographs and films. The Surrealists were particularly interested in working with the automatic and the spontaneous, so naturally they used the newly invented Photomaton in their artwork. The 1929 issues of “Variétés” and “La Revolution Surréaliste” (Surrealist publications) featured several photobooth pictures of members of the Surrealist movement, the exhibition features dozens of these original photobooth strips. It also has Rene Magritte’s famous “Je ne vois pas (la femme) cachée dans la fôret”, which features 16 photobooth pictures of the most well known Surrealists. The “Subversion of Images” includes strips taken by Andre Breton, Salivador Dali and many others. It is extremely well curated and is worth a visit if you are in the area. The exhibit opened September 23 and runs until January 11, 2010.

No photographs were allowed in the exhibition, this is a photo of one of the exhibit’s publications.


Thanks, Meags!

November 12, 2009

henry_ford_museum.jpgHenry Ford is the man who brought us assembly lines and mass production (among other innovations). As a result, he seems like the kind of person who would have been fascinated with the photobooth: a self-contained photo developing assembly line used to mass produce snapshots. It is only fitting, then, that the Henry Ford Museum just put a collection of 80 photobooth photos on Flickr.

A few of the photo groupings seem to be from the same strip or of the same subject, which is always interesting to see. Additionally, Suzanne Fischer of the Museum’s staff has posted an entry in the museum’s blog about the photobooth photos.

Mr. Ford passed away in 1947 which would mean the last 20 years of his life were lived in a world with photobooths. I wonder if there are any photostrips of him?

A brief blurb on this collection went out via the Associated Press today.